IDC Bulletin: The Next Most Obvious Thing

Jan. 1, 2009

A&D professionals stand to benefit immensely when a more integrated approach to design is incorporated.


An often overlooked element of design is our potential to integrate more effectively. Most of us have the tools and technological know how to deliver work in a timely and efficient fashion, but how frequently do we pause and reflect on what our profession could gain from finding a better way to serve up quality design?

Our overworked lives have driven many of us to generate tremendously convenient excuses for not adhering to a more creative, thoughtful, and comprehensive approach to our work. Complacency and a hesitation to think and act assertively have resulted in a compromised approach to design.

The current process is akin to wearing a sweater backwards: the amount of time allotted for actual concept and design generation is quite often significantly less than that spent on documentation and administration services ... depending on the complexity and scope of the project. The traditional system also seems to organize the players in a hierarchical and chronological fashion, quite often triggering cost escalations because critical skill sets are brought to the table far too late in the process.

These results could in fact be reversed if we subscribed to a more proactive design process. By adopting an integrated stance involving all stakeholders at the onset of each project there would be more opportunity to explore solutions, create better design options, and allow everyone in the process to apply their expertise and knowledge well ahead of the game. The mundane aspects of the process are not undermined, but given equal footing and the end result is a more satisfying delivery of services and a successful design conclusion on every level.

How do we broadcast this message? We need to advocate best practice principles by establishing a new status quo and speaking out to those who are part of our community. Clients, consultants, building trades and all parties invested in each design project should be given equal opportunity to be involved throughout the design process.

I am always impressed by the range of ideas and suggestions that emerge from a gathering of minds. As designers, we owe it to ourselves to demonstrate responsibility and stewardship to our audience. By concisely, clearly, and purposefully communicating our skills and this integrated approach to design, our profession stands to gain immensely. We can be seen as visionaries by properly articulating this purpose and by letting design, and designers, take the lead in addressing the challenges of a changing world.

The ‘next most obvious thing' is in our midst. We should tap into it.

Jim Toy is the principal and founder of False Creek Design Group (FCDG). FCDG is known for responsible and sustainable design and was one of the first LEED accredited interior design firms in Vancouver. In 2006, Toy was drafted by the Interior Designers Institute of British Columbia to serve as the organization's president—a position he will hold until April of 2009.

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